Michaelmas 2013: Chair’s Report
This has been one of the Cambridge University Conservative Association’s strongest terms in recent years with the highest intake of new members in a Michaelmas Term since 2008, a dynamic and lively speaker & policy programme, and a series of popular social ents.
For this term’s speaker & policy programme we chose the theme ‘The Future of the Conservative Party’ as a means of weaving together the topics discussed into a wider narrative about how the Conservatives can win a parliamentary majority.
Our speaker programme was launched by Lord Tebbit’s talk about how the Conservatives should try to reclaim the ‘common ground’ in British politics – a concept first popularised by Sir Keith Joseph – by focusing on issues such as taxation, crime, immigration, and education. We then held a tribute event for Lady Thatcher with the Centre for Policy Studies entitled ‘Margaret Thatcher’s Legacy for Modern Conservatism’. The panel, featuring Lord Parkinson, Conor Burns MP, Charlotte Vere, Kelvin MacKenzie, and Robin Harris, discussed what Thatcherism is, the extent to which it is ‘conservative’, and how it can guide us into the future. ConservativeHome posted the video recording of this special event later that week. Closing our speakers programme was Tim Montgomerie who delivered a fascinating talk on the importance of social justice in Conservative thinking.
We also held three policy workshops with the local Conservative Policy Forum. The first discussion had a debate format with Thomas Hunt, a Conservative European Parliament candidate for the Eastern Region, against David Grace, a local Liberal Democrat activist, discussing whether Britain should leave the European Union. For our second discussion we were joined by Alex Morton, a Senior Research Fellow at Policy Exchange, who specialises in housing policy. Then at our final discussion Chris Snowdon, the Director of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, gave a talk about the damaging effects of nanny state legislation, specifically through regressive ‘sin taxes’ which put significant pressure on the cost of living for the working classes.
To reinforce this theme our members and alumni contributed articles to a CUCA policy report entitled ‘The Future of the Conservative Party’, which you can download now. We have received contributions from notable and prestigious figures such as Peter Lilley MP, Lord Blackwell, and Lord Flight. The purpose of the policy report is to engage students with the challenges facing the Conservatives and to then relay them to CCHQ.
But Michaelmas 2013 wasn’t just about politics! We gave this year’s freshers a fantastic and fun introduction to student life with a free brunch buffet and a freshers squash in a local cocktail bar for happy hour. Later in the term we held a Spirits & Mixers Night, a Port & Cheese Evening, and our traditional Chairman’s Dinner, where we welcomed many new members into CUCA.
It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as CUCA Chair for Michaelmas 2013, and I would like to thank the Committee for all their hard work, and thank everyone for coming to our events and getting involved with Conservative politics in Cambridge. I am especially grateful for the all the advice and support given to me by my predecessor, Katie Lam.
Under James Mottram as CUCA Chair for Lent 2014 I am confident that CUCA will continue to grow and thrive as a fun, modern, and vibrant political organisation.
CUCA Chair Michaelmas 2013